Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Muslim World League Behind Saudi "Interfaith" Da'wa Conference - World Jewish Congress lauds initiative of terror tied group
Muslim World League Behind Saudi "Interfaith" Da'wa Conference - World Jewish Congress lauds initiative of terror tied group
ISNA officials attended Mecca conference
June 8, 2008
Muslim World League Behind Saudi "Interfaith" Da'wa Conference
By BEILA RABINOWITZ and WILLIAM MAYER
June 8, 2008 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - On Wednesday June 4th King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia opened the bi-annual conference of the Muslim World League. The three day meeting was attended by around 600 Islamic clerics and scholars and held in Mecca, a city where entry is forbidden to non-Muslims.
Abdullah was attempting to reconcile the two branches of Islam in order to facilitate Islamic propagation efforts. His special guest was Shiite Iranian politician Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who bashed America and who accused the U.S. of trying to control the region's oil, urging Muslims to "resist it."
One major topic at the conference was the establishment of a "global Islamic charter" regarding interfaith dialogue between Christians and Jews. As these writers have noted in previous articles, see The Saudis Deceptive Religious Reform Proposal regarding a plan to teach clerics about interfaith dialogue:
"At best this move by the Saudis represents an effort to present Wahhabism as a reasonable religious sect making it more da'wa friendly playing on our societal preoccupation with interfaith sharing, which in relation to Islam is a fraudulent concept because it's a one-way conversation.
As such the move falls into the purview of stealth jihad, advancing Sharia in a manner not overtly conflictive with Western freedoms."
In his opening speech, Abdullah said that Muslims, "must do away with the dangers of extremism to present Islam's "good message" to the world, "You have gathered today to tell the whole world that ... we are a voice of justice and values and humanity, that we are a voice of coexistence and a just and rational dialogue."
The message of the conference clearly implied that it's goal was to facilitate da'wa.
Abdullah's understanding of interfaith dialogue aligns with that of the Grand Mufti [head religious leader] of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz Al al-Sheikh, who has stated that dialogue with other religions was a way to bring non-Muslims into Islam. The cleric, who is the highest official of religious law, told the delegates that converting people to Islam was the ultimate goal of dialogue, a point made several times. "It is the opportunity to disseminate the principles of Islam. Islam advocates dialogue among people, especially calling them to the path of Allah."
The brochure advertising the event cites verses from the Qur'an that tell Muslims to "invite all to the way of the lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching and argue with them in the ways that are best and most gracious."
In a speech at the event, the Grand Mufti endorsed the king's project and said the whole Ummah was looking up to the benevolent king to take the lead and bring different communities of the world together.
"He has taken this step with good intention and this is the only way of propagating the real values of Islam," Al-Asheikh said, adding: "We cannot live in an isolation. We need to cooperate with others to make the most of advancement in all aspects of life."
The Muslim World League is closely tied to terrorism. According to "Discover the Networks."
"...Founded in 1962 by Islamic representatives from 22 countries, the Muslim World League (MWL), also called Rabita, is an Islamic non-governmental organization based in Saudi Arabia and controlled and funded by the Saudi government. Its objectives are "to disseminate Islamic Dawah and expound the teachings of Islam…MWL promotes Wahhabism, the extremist form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia. In the 1980s, the League's Pakistan office was run by Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood and brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden. Khalifa was the co-founder of the Benevolence International Foundation and he helped to finance Operation Bojinka, a foiled 1995 plot that would have simultaneously detonated bombs aboard eleven U.S.-bound airliners, blowing them up in mid-flight over the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea..." [source, http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=7347]
According to the Guardian UK:
"The king held talks in November with Pope Benedict XVI and in March announced plans to host a meeting between the three Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam - an initiative welcomed by the president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder" [source, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jun/05/religion.islam]
The Western press is lauding the conference as heralding the chance of reconciliation between Muslims and non-Muslims under the guise of interfaith. Viewed correctly however, the Muslim World League initiative is at its base another example of the relentless stealth jihad being waged by the Wahhabists who now feign alignment with their enemies in order to become more effective. For that reason, groups such as the American Jewish Congress and Jewish leaders who lauded the effort should do due diligence and withdraw their support immediately. http://www.pipelinenews.org/index.cfm?page=mwlarticleid=060808%2Ehtm
"Several senior Shiite figures were invited to the conference, including Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah of Lebanon and Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, head of Lebanon's Hezbollah, which was strongly criticized by Saudi Arabia for overrunning mostly Sunnis areas in Beirut last month".http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5i74PhEcSf68r29q0MlS3rTiqddGQD913DMVG0
MIM: The press release issued by the World Jewish Congress lauded the Saudi initiative and urged others to join.
To: RELIGION EDITORS Contact: Michael Thaidigsmann of World Jewish Congress (Brussels Office), +32-2-552-09-24, or Mobile, +32-485-869-584, or [email protected] NEW YORK, May 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --
The leadership of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) considers a recent initiative by King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia for a reinforced dialogue between the three Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) to be an important development in the area of inter-faith dialogue. In a statement, the WJC Steering Committee welcomed the King's initiative:
"The World Jewish Congress believes that all religions, and especially the Religions of the Book, can work together in responding to the challenges posed by the developments in society in these times. The WJC supports the proposal to bring together members of the Abrahamic faiths to discuss common values. Such an initiative demonstrates optimism that dialogue involving representatives of different faiths can help the peoples of the world during difficult times. Discussion can help in finding ways to approach the crisis of ethical values facing our societies. It is the duty of all religions to restore respect for humanity. The WJC strongly believes that through discussion and debate between brethren who share a common root we will learn that the ideals, aspirations and values that we share far outweigh any difference we may have."
In March, King Abdullah had told a seminar on 'Culture and the Respect of Religions' in Riyadh: "The idea is to ask representatives of all monotheistic religions to sit together with their brothers in faith and sincerity to all religions as we all believe in the same God."
WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said: "Despite all obstacles that may still be in the way, King Abdullah's initiative is a laudable step forward. We hope that other religious and political leaders throughout the world will be encouraged to join." The Chairman of the WJC's Governing Board, Matthew Bronfman, expressed his hope that the Saudi initiative will spell real progress in fostering better understanding with the Muslim world. "The World Jewish Congress is ready to participate in any serious inter-faith talks that are based on mutual respect," Bronfman said.
MIM: Officials of the Islamic Society of North America (whose goal is it's name) attended the Mecca conference.ISNA is the largest da'wa organisation in North America.
ISNA OFFICIALS AT FIRST INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC CONFERENCE ON DIALOGUE IN MECCA
In June 2008, the First International Islamic Conference on Dialogue was held in Mecca, Saudi Arabia with Muslim leaders from across the globe. The four-day conference was organized by the Muslim World League with the support of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
King Abdullah personally inaugurated the conference and welcomed everyone to the first major plenary session which hosted speakers such as: former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, the President of Al-Azhar University in Cairo and the Secretary General of the Muslim World League.
In addition to ISNA, there were about 600 international participants from different countries around the world. Representing the true diversity of Islam, leaders of different sects, schools of thought and ethnicities were all represented at the summit in Mecca.
Additionally, media outlets from around the world covered the Mecca Conference. Delegations of television, radio and print media journalists were represented from Pakistan, Egypt, United Kingdom, Morocco and many other countries. This clearly showed that the organizers wanted the Muslim masses in those countries to know about the proceedings of the Conference and let the Muslim world celebrate a paradigm shift in modern Islamic thought.
Dr. Sayyid M Syeed, Dr. Jamal Badawi, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqui and ISNA Vice President, Imam Mohammed Magid represented ISNA at the Mecca Conference. They had a good opportunity to talk about their experiences in American interfaith dialogue through addressing the panels, individual meetings and media interviews. The fact that ISNA has given top priority to interfaith dialogue by opening an interfaith office in Washington DC was a clear message to all participants and organizers how the American Muslim community has taken the lead on interfaith dialogue.
The Mecca Conference was truly a victory for peaceful cooperation and mutual understanding between various schools of thought within Islamic community. The high profile of the conference and the commitment to support various programs that strengthen dialogue between religions was promising in terms of advancing the image of Islam and Muslims around the world. http://www.isna.net/articles/News/MECCA-CONFERENCE.aspx
Documents recently published in Arabic on the Muslim World League (WML) website, an organization funded by the Saudi government, indicate that Wahhabi clerics are increasingly targeting Europe as an ideological recruiting ground. The WML was created in 1962 in Mecca  and in due course became a primary tool for disseminating Wahhabi ideology worldwide. While Wahhabi doctrine is exclusionary and extremist, it does not necessarily condone or promote terrorist acts. The fear is, however, that Wahhabi doctrine and institutions could serve as gateways to more violent organizations.
The Muslim population in Europe has grown rapidly over the past 50 years; estimates vary between 13 and 20 million Muslims now living in the EU, and as many as 52 million in Europe when Southeastern Europe, Turkey, and Russia are included.  Broadly speaking significant segments of this population are alienated and thus susceptible to radicalization, particularly by the remnants of the Egyptian Ikhwan and Algerian Islamic militants.
In the mid-1980s, Saudi Arabia began to openly support and finance an ideological assault to spread Wahhabism. This policy was essentially a response to the Iranian revolution which put Shi'a Islamism at the forefront of the global Islamic movement. Anxious to curtail Iranian ambitions, the Saudis embarked upon the most extensive missionary campaign in history, effectively exporting Wahhabism to the four corners of the globe.
Saudi Arabia officially permits the dissemination of WML's propaganda, which is often radical and vehemently anti-American. Former CIA director R. James Woolsey estimates that the Saudis have spent nearly $90 billion since the mid-1970s to export their ideology into Muslim and non-Muslim countries alike. 
The WML has been paying special attention of late to Europe, emphasizing the role Saudi Arabia has played in assisting Muslims and promoting Islam in that continent. The tone of research documents recently posted on the WML website suggest that as far as Wahhabi clerics are concerned, Europe is considered a promising area for further Islamization. An article originally published in Arabic in the "al-`Alam al-Islami" (The Islamic World) section of worldmuslimleague.com in December, 2004, entitled "Leading Role of Saudi Arabia in the Dissemination of Islam's Holy Heritage in the West" by Al-A'zab Abdel Khalil describes the research of Dr. Sheikh Ra'fat Gunaimi, director of the Egyptian Research Institute of Asia at the Az-Zakazik University.  In his research paper, Dr. Gunaimi asserts that "Saudi Arabia plays the leading role in the distribution of sacred Islamic ideas in the West." Dr. Sheikh Ra'fat Gunaimi emphasizes that Muslim countries should help and protect Muslims living abroad as this is: "…necessary for the preservation of the essence of Islam in the western states where, since the times of colonialism, many products of a spiritual heritage and valuable historical Islamic monuments are stored."
Dr. Sheikh Ra'fat Gunaimi writes that "Islamic minorities live in all countries of modern Europe. Their ethnic roots are different – Arabs, Turks, Asians, Africans… and all of them maintain their cultural and social identity, although in some respects they are influenced by the European environment in which they live. Nevertheless they are connected with historical motherlands, whence they arrived."
Dr. Sheikh Ra'fat Gunaimi recognizes that Muslim minorities in Europe live in safety and do not face any brazen oppression from Europeans. "Muslim minorities in Europe try to adapt to their European presence and set up and organize the Muslim establishments there. And they hope their co-religionists in the Arabian and Muslim countries will stretch a helping hand to them and give them support in strengthening Islam in Europe."
Dr. Sheikh Ra'fat Gunaimi provides the Muslim World League's data about "the Islamic reserve" in Europe, some of which is presented below:
Austria: Muslims in Austria are mostly natives from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Broadly speaking they are represented by an organization called "The Islamic Cultural Society".
Germany: The majority of Muslim workers in Germany are from Turkey and Northern Africa, and they mostly live in industrial regions.
Belgium: Natives of Northern Africa comprise 2 % of the national population. In August 1974 the Belgian parliament ratified a royal decree that recognized Islam as a state religion. Soon afterwards a huge Islamic Cultural Center was established in Brussels with Saudi money.
France: Muslims here are mostly from North Africa and constitute the largest Islamic community in Europe.
Malta: The population of the island is 350,000, 40,000 of whom are Muslims, thus constituting 11 % of the general population.
Given that youths now make up the majority of the Muslim population of Europe, Wahhabi missionaries and propagandists expend a lot of energy in accessing and indoctrinating young people. They also aspire to introduce their outlook and vision in school curricula textbooks. An article entitled: "International conference dedicated to improve the image of Islam in European schools' curricula" from the Muslim World League website states that representatives of eight international organizations that participated in the Cairo conference came together to correct "negative perceptions of the Arabic – Islamic culture" in textbooks of European schools. 
When Wahhabis talk about misperception of Islam by non-Muslims they almost always attribute this to mistranslation and distortion of the Qur'an and other sacred texts. Dr. Salakh Ramadan, a professor from the Al-Azhar University drew participants' attention to the fact that "Italian history textbooks are influenced by anti-Islamism." Moreover Dr. Mohammed Mansur, another professor at Al-Azhar University, criticized Austrian textbooks for presenting Islam as "a collection of Christian and Judaic doctrines that the Prophet Mohammed got acquainted with during his commercial voyages." All participants at the Saudi sponsored conference were unanimous in their opinion that they had to do their utmost "to revise the western perception of Islam and explain Islamic positions on present problems." They also reiterated and reinforced Saudi Arabia's claims to be the leading power in Islam; a power that strives to keep the faith "pure" and free of innovation.
Wahhabi propagandists have correctly identified European mosques as their main stronghold; institutions which are at times even beyond the reach of law enforcement bodies. It is thus not surprising that Wahhabi organizations strive to place sympathetic imams and other figures of authority at the helm of mosques. This kind of penetration enables them to introduce the Wahhabi agenda in an incremental, systematic and effective manner. In another article on the WML website entitled "Swiss Muslims are looking for ways to train their own Imams", the Paris-based author Ali Salekh gives direct instructions on how to insert Wahhabi imams in European mosques without arousing the suspicions of European authorities. Salekh maintains that "…an Imam should be familiar with all aspects of life and in this or that country in order to provide fatwas that on the one hand comply with the Shari'ah, and on the other take into consideration real conditions of life in this or that country." 
Wahhabis understand well that after 9/11, life for European Muslims has changed in many respects, not least because Muslims are now subject to greater suspicion and scrutiny. Wahhabis advise Muslims to "avoid actions that may cause suspicion and anxiety among the native population," and to choose their imams and other figures of authority on the basis of their knowledge of local conditions, laws and values. Moreover they stress that the imams should be politically active. According to Ali Salekh, "…an Imam or a preacher in the west should not restrict his actions to the management of a mosque or issuing fatwas to the community." Salekh advises that aside from these classical duties European imams should work and establish links with local organizations, governmental bodies, research centers and with all segments of the local population in order to promote the Islamic "mission" in Europe.
The broadly ineffective and negative policy of European governments toward their Muslim citizens from the 1960s-80s was replaced in the 1990s by a policy of appeasement towards the Muslim extremist organizations. Arguably this has been the single most important factor in the growth of Wahhabism and other forms of extremist Islam in Europe. Therefore it is not altogether surprising that the 9/11 attacks were planned in Europe. It is also not surprising that perhaps as many as 700 insurgents in Iraq are European Muslims. Among them was Abu Muhammad al-Lubnani, the most senior emir of the Zarqawi network, who made his way to Iraq from Denmark and recently perished there.
Dr. Evgenii Novikov, an expert on Islam and on the politics and economics of the Persian Gulf region, is a Senior Fellow of The Jamestown Foundation.
Notes: 1. "Muslim World League (PO Box 537, Makkah) was founded in 1962 (1381/82 AH) to promote Islamic unity." From the Saudi Arabia Information Resource Website http://www.saudinf.com/main/k312.htm 2. For more information, see "Islam in Jail: Europe's Neglect Breeds Angry Radicals" By Craig S. Smith, New York Times, December 8, 2004. 3. Presentation at the American Enterprise Institute: Saudi Government Propaganda in the United States: Avowed Ally or Secret Enemy? February 16, 2005. 4. "Daur al-ra'id li-saudiyyah fi nashar samahat al-Islam fi-l-gharb" (Leading Role of Saudi Arabia in the Dissemination of Islam's Holy Heritage in the West) Al-`Alam al-Islami, (The Muslim World). Issue # 1868, December 6, 2004. 5. Al-`Alam al-Islami, (The Muslim World). Issue # 1868, December 6, 2004. 6. Ibid. --------------------------------------
Saudi Arabia invited an Israeli rabbi on Thursday to attend an interfaith conference to be held in Madrid.
Rabbi David Rosen, president of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, is the only rabbi who lives in Israel who was invited by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and the World Muslim League to the conference that is slated for July 16 to 18.
Other rabbis representing Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Judaism have also been invited.
Rosen said that the conference was the Saudis' first initiative to reach out to other religions in this way.
About 200 leaders have been invited to the conference.
Several months ago, Abdullah announced that he planned to hold a major interfaith summit in Saudia Arabia. The Madrid conference is a precursor to that much larger initiative.
Last month Sunni and Shi'ite leaders met in Saudi Arabia as the very first step toward a summit that would bring together Christian, Muslim and Jewish spiritual leaders.
"They are building up to the big summit in stages," Rosen said. "Apparently, it would be too big of a step for the Saudis to invite either of the two chief rabbis of Israel. But I hope they will reach that step eventually."
He has said in the past that if Israeli rabbis are left out of a Saudi summit the efficacy of the interfaith dialogue would be impaired.
The International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations is a broad-based coalition of organizations and denominations that represents world Jewry in its relations with other religions.
Rosen also heads interfaith relations for the American Jewish Committee.
He said he could face a danger of exploitation in a Saudi effort to improve its image, but that he hoped the conference would lead to further contacts with Jews and Israeli officials. If so, he said, "I think that will be a great achievement."
By MARK LAVIE, Associated Press WriterThu Jul 3, 3:29 PM ET
Saudi Arabia has invited an Israeli rabbi to an interfaith conference in Spain, potentially the first step in wider contacts between the kingdom and Israel, the rabbi told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Rabbi David Rosen said Saudi Arabia called the conference, set for Madrid from July 16-18, to bring world religions together to confront common challenges. Rosen called the invitation "a historic step for them."
But he warned that it might be no more than a Saudi attempt to improve its image and that of Islam in the face of criticism over the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. and other instances of Islamic extremism.
No comment was available Thursday from the Saudi embassy in Madrid.
Israel and Saudi Arabia have no diplomatic relations. As guardian of Islam's two holiest sites, Saudi Arabia has traditionally shunned any public contact with Israel or its representatives.
About 200 people have been invited, including Islamic notables from Arab countries, as well as Jewish and Christian leaders. Among them are Franklin Graham, son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, and former Vice President Al Gore.
Rosen said he received an invitation from the World Muslim League, sponsored by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
Rosen, former chief rabbi of Ireland who serves as head of interfaith relations for the American Jewish Committee, is not identified as an Israeli on the conference list; rather, as an American Jewish Committee official.
He said the invitation stemmed from the Saudi recognition that "the world needs to see Muslim initiatives for cooperation and for constructive engagement."
At a meeting last month, Abdullah told 500 delegates from around 50 Muslim nations that Muslims must do away with the dangers of extremism to present Islam's "good message" to the world.
Rosen is a veteran of efforts to bring religious leaders together for talks. He was prominent in negotiations in the 1990s that resulted in Israel and the Vatican establishing diplomatic relations.
Interviewed by telephone from Tangiers, Morocco, where he is helping to set up a Jewish-Vatican-Moroccan conference, Rosen said the value of the Madrid conference depends on the goal of the Saudi organizers.
If holding the meeting for the sake of publicity is the whole intention, Rosen said, "then I have no great expectations, and it will be another one-off event of very limited consequence."
However, even then it would not be a lost cause, he said, citing a passage from the Jewish Talmud, "He who does right for the wrong reason will eventually do right for the right reason."
Rosen said the conference could be "the beginning of a process that is in our interest, not just in their interest, in the interest of Israel, the Jewish people and the free world."
Others on the list obtained by the AP are Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Pope Shenouda III, head of the Coptic Church.
Those from Arab nations are largely establishment figures from government-condoned institutions, including several prominent clerics representing Saudi Arabia's strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islam. Several Shiites were also invited.
It was not immediately known who among those invited had agreed to attend.
Jewish Representative Body Welcomes Muslim Call to Dialogue
2008-03-04 07:31:25 - NEW YORK, NY - March 3, 2008 - In an historic first, the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), that represents world Jewry to other world religions, has issued a call for dialogue between Muslims and Jews. The statement follows the recent call to peace, dialogue and understanding issued by Muslim scholars on February 25th 2008.
rCBw7="0">IJCIC International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations 165 East 56th Street New York, NY 10022, USA (001) 212-891 6768
Rabbi David Rosen, KCSG • Chair
Rabbi Dr. Richard Marker • Vice Chair
Seymour D. Reich • Treasurer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jewish Representative Body Welcomes Muslim Call to Dialogue
The IJCIC statement, entitled "Seek Peace and Pursue It" addresses those voices speaking "from a stance of moderation, love of God, and respect for the dignity of all people."
"We recognize the great need in our time to allow religion to serve as an inroad between our communities rather than as a divisive wedge," the statement declares.
Acknowledging that there is "a dangerous and widespread misconception that an innate hostility exists between Judaism and Islam," the Jewish leaders stressed that "it is important to affirm the dynamic history of interaction that our communities have shared with one another."
The statement adds that the "leaders of our respective religious communities have a particular mandate to highlight the common repudiation in Judaism and Islam of murder, violence, injustice and indignity."
In conclusion the statement invites Muslims to develop the dialogue "in the pursuit of world made better through our efforts."
The International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC) is a coalition of Jewish organizations representing world Jewry to other religions. IJCIC's member organizations are American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League, B'nai B'rith International, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Israel Jewish Council on Interreligious Relations, Rabbinical Assembly, Rabbinical Council of America, Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, Union for Reform Judaism, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and World Jewish Congress
For more information contact: Ari Gordon, Principle Secretary (212) 891 6768, [email protected]
Find the full text of the letter below:
SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT: A JEWISH CALL TO MUSLIM-JEWISH DIALOGUE
We write this letter with the hope that it reaches all those Jews and Muslims committed to the injunction "Seek peace and pursue it." (Psalms 34:15) We recognize the great need in our time to allow religion to serve as an inroad between our communities rather than as a divisive wedge. We write this letter at a time in which many claim to speak on our behalves. Many of these voices speak from a stance of moderation, love of God and respect for the dignity of all people as did the recent "Call to Peace, Dialogue and Understanding between Muslims and Jews." Unfortunately, others perpetrate the grossest forms of violence and stereo-typing in the name of religion. We write this letter to reach out and respond to the former, those who seek peace - and to repudiate the latter, those who preach hatred. As Jewish leaders we write this letter with the hope it reaches those with whom we might fulfill the words of the prophets "to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with God." (Micah 6:8) As such, we respectfully extend this message to our Muslim brothers and sisters accordingly.
We are fully aware that both of our religious communities have a robust tradition of varying interpretations of sacred text and religious principles, often yielding competing understandings. We call to dialogue all of those who affirm that our mandate as leaders is to guide our communities in accordance with values which benefit all of human society and the world at large.
There is now a dangerous and widespread misconception that an innate hostility exists between Judaism and Islam. We believe that this misconception leads to a travesty of the transcendent values of our respective heritages and a denial of the noblest periods of our mutual history. Judaism and Islam have historically shared much in common, and it is instructive for both of our religions to continue to explore how our respective religious understandings have evolved, often in relationship to one another.
It is important to affirm the dynamic history of interaction that our communities have shared with one another. During these many centuries we have had times and places of shared destiny and remarkable achievement. We look back on some of these periods as a Golden Age. Even as the percentage of Jews living in Muslim lands decreased there were always Muslim societies which were hospitable to the Jewish people and in which a heritage of fruitful cooperation and coexistence between the religious communities prevailed. Furthermore, there have always been and remain several lands which are neither Jewish nor Muslim in which our communities have lived side by side in co-existence. We also recognize that this welcome and openness was not universal, and as a result there is now considerable ambivalence about how we are to understand each other's views and values.
Accordingly, those of us who are informed by and are leaders of our respective religious communities have a particular mandate to highlight the common repudiation in Judaism and Islam of murder, violence, injustice and indignity. Further, we must seek to reaffirm the commandments in our respective Faiths to pursue peace and to affirm the dignity of the other. As Jews we often base the affirmation of human dignity in the notion that all human beings are created B'Tzelem Elohim, with Godliness.
As believers in the One Creator and Guide of the Universe, referred to in both our Traditions as the Merciful One, who demands mercy and compassion of us all, it is essential to recapture and develop the spirit of Jewish-Muslim dialogue and mutual respect. True love of God demands this dialogue, not only to uphold the aforementioned sublime teachings and to recapture the historical memory of mutual cooperation, but in order to facilitate genuine reconciliation among the different faith communities, between Muslims and Jews everywhere, and also for the sake of relations between the Muslim world and the non-Muslim world at large.
We invite your participation in the development of this dialogue, and will welcome your engagement with us in pursuit of a world made better through our efforts.
For more information contact: Ari Gordon, Principle Secretary (212) 891 6768, [email protected]